Sleeper shades, audio wearables
I was intrigued from the get-go when the folks at Apex Interactive dropped off the Razer Anzu Smart Glasses because I actually tried on a pair from another brand (BOSE) not too long ago and was impressed until the price tag hit me like a ton of bricks in the face bro.
I donned that offering at an experience store after seeing their window display. Sunglasses with sound, cool, I thought. Comfortable, but they felt like tech on my face, you know? It's tough to explain. Perhaps that opinion was formed due to the thickness of the frame, or the weight, not sure. My partner was with me at the time, and she said that it didn't suit me, so my opinion may have been swayed because I was shunned by the missus. harsh yes But to me, it looked less like what they were designed to look like, standard sunglasses and more like wearable tech.
The Razer Anzu Smart Glasses look like ordinary specs, especially as sunglasses, comes in two style variants, and two size options for each.
*takes a deep breath* It is boxed with both clear and dark lenses, weighs just 46 grams, offers blue light filtering, is polarized to protect against UVA and UVB, has built-in downward-facing speakers, omnidirectional microphones, batteries that'll yield over 5 hours, connects to both Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth (supporting their respective voice assistants), programmable touch controls, and has a suggested retail price of just R3999. *breathes out*
Review done, lol, no way, not by a long shot. These wearables are truly epic, and I am buying a pair. Keep reading and you too may want to get your hands on your very own Razer Anzu. Stop reading now if you do not want to spend money.
As a gamer, your priority should be your eye health and you should be wearing specs with a blue light filter at the very least, sadly many of us simply don't think about it, unless it is suggested by an optometrist, and there are a lot of people that don't need specs at all, so the thought of wearing glasses whilst gaming may seem foreign to many, myself included.
Are you aware of the fact that your computer, mobile phone, or tablet that you are currently using to connect to this article, is emitting blue light, that over time, leads to dry eyes, blurry vision and even headaches? Further to that, it is said that it even negatively impacts your sleep, and why so many doctors will advise against staring at a screen in bed, lol, PUBGM till the chicken dinner dude!
By adding a couple of hundred bucks to your next pair of glasses, you can get your optometrist to add a blue light filter to your lenses, I checked, and adding it, would cost around R200 per lens. Meaning, that these Anzu units already offer me R400 value, apart from the eye protection and much-needed deep sleep in between gaming sessions. These frames are standard in terms of lens size and curvature, meaning you can have them fitted with prescription lenses. Have you priced frames lately? Fun fact, my wife's optometrist didn't realize the Anzu glasses were Smart until I made him aware, even though he had the Anzu in hand, checking them for UV and even cleaning them. Sleeper tech baby!
I did a cost exercise and prescription lenses for the Razer Anzu large frame will set you back anything between R1500 and R3500 depending on your prescription type, strength and whether you decide to add blue light filtering, UV protection or perhaps auto-tint. So, in my case, not requiring replacement lenses, the additional value offered due to the polarized UV protection is another R600, thus totalling around R1000 in real value thus far. Now add the tech value, by looking at the cost of Bluetooth in-ear solutions. The cheapest pair that includes touch control, will set you back around R1500. What about sunglasses? Just the frames. Let's say R200 because you purchased it from your cousin Joe Soap. (He is the "cleanest" specs dealer you know.) Bypassing Joe, a decent frame is upwards of R2000.
Adding all the costs up, you will easily be spending well over R3000. Crazy baby poo right there. Are you seeing the value in this Razer offering now?
When not gaming and you decide to venture into the sun, after typing BRB to your teamie, the Razer Anzu Smart Glasses comes boxed with polarized tinted lenses, you simply pop the clear ones out and nudge the dark lenses in. Easy. Although the first time freaked me out a tad, but after a couple of days, it became a seamless exercise, depending on my desired use for that period. UV sorted, get those steps in baby!
Okay, so let me tell you about the tech inside these puppies. The sound from the call you're on, or content you're consuming, is emitted from directional speakers inside each of the two arms, pointing downwards toward your earlobes and not via bone conduction, the speakers are that well-hidden. Tilting the frames slightly upward, as if you are sliding the glasses atop your head, will give you a true sense of how directional these speakers really are. It really is remarkable. So much so, that no one around you will hear your music or the other side of your phone conversation. The only odd thing for anyone looking at you with your Razer Anzu, is them seeing you talk to some invisible person, and that is funny AF.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the glasses have little in-ear speakers dangling from their respective cables, but no, there's nothing in your ear, and that is what makes this offering from Razer the ultimate answer to audio wearables. Full stop. Okay, not full stop, because I'm still rambling on, but I felt I needed a dramatic ending to the bold statement I'm making. The number of times I have forgotten that I am speaking to a person via Anzu, and then take the glasses off for a split second, totally in thought, makes one appreciate the disconnect between this and in-ear wearables.
The first time I experienced true in-ear, noise-cancelling audio, I was blown away. The sound quality of high-end wearable audio devices available on the market today is truly insane, however, it comes at a price. Whilst active noise canceling is great, reducing unwanted outside sounds for an immersive experience, it puts one at risk by not hearing the sounds you need to hear, such as a warning hoot from a car for example. Granted, there are in-ear solutions available today that recognize warning sounds and allow for a pass-through thanks to microphones that actively listen to your outside world, amplify that, and feed it to you, but that too, as cool as it is , comes with trade-offs, price, and battery consumption.
Reading Ashley's review of the Sony LinkBuds, I was initially optimistic about the ambient throughput, but then, the comfort issue was a sore point. I too tried those buds and agreed with her assessment that it was not comfortable.
In stark contrast, I have hardly taken these Razer Anzu's off. Even now while drafting this article, listening to tunes, people walking into my office and talking to me, just cements my love for this tech.
The Anzu's omnidirectional microphones picked up my voice perfectly and there are no complaints from anyone I have been on calls, or Discord convos with since receiving these units, whether from my office, walking the fur babies, or even from my car, was perfect. Oh, by the way, the connectivity range impressed me too, I only lost signal to my phone at 18 meters or so outdoors and around 10 meters indoors where microwaves, fridges and whatnot play havoc with connectivity. It never felt like I needed to be any further away from my source.
Razer, the brand that screamed innovation from the moment it burst onto the market, looking at you Boomslang, surprised me by launching their own mobile phone offering, aimed at gamers a while ago. And whilst that venture seems to be on hold for now, they have produced products such as Project Hazel, their N95 pandemic mask that boasts RGB, cause why not, as well as other gamer-infused lifestyle products and this is where this offering slots in The question is, would you pop these glasses on to jam your PC games without using your gaming headset, or is this purely for eye protection whilst you still rely on the headset for sound?
Using the clear inserts that offer blue light filtering, they protect your eyes whilst in front of any screen, TVs included, and once you have paired your PC to the Razer Anzu via Bluetooth, and selected them as your audio source, you can use them exclusively. I did note that the clear inserts do not offer UV and are not polarized, the dark inserts provide that to you for outdoor activities, so unless you are gaming on your notebook outside, (which works perfectly by the way), the clear inserts are the ones to use.
Whilst I played, I didn't get that same vibe one gets from over-the-ear headphones, that said, I wasn't deprived and to be honest, I could see myself waiting in a boardroom for a meeting to start and jamming with these bad boys on. No one would hear my game sounds and glasses make people look smarter, right?
During my review process, for the most part, I used the glasses with over-the-ear headphones for sound whilst on my PC and on mobile. There was a lol incident where I started hearing music playing because I accidentally touched the play button whilst shifting my headset during a game and asked my teamie where the music was coming from, noob move, right? In my defence, these glasses are comfy, and I simply forgot I had them on, lol.
Touch control is as simple as tapping either the left or right arm of the Anzu and these too, are programmable via the Razer App available in either Google Play for Android or App Store for iOS. The App, simply labeled Audio, provides insights into the battery level, equalizer settings and a slider that turns the glasses into either standard or gaming modes, with the latter offering a low latency of 60ms Bluetooth connection. Expect this to lead to increased power consumption, but it never bothered me during my tests. You are also able to toggle between modes via the touch controls, so launching the app isn't essential.
In the app, you can check for, and update the firmware in addition to adding other Razer products.
The glasses are IPX4 water resistant, so don't panic should you be caught in a bit of rain or wear them during an intense training session whilst your head extrudes five tons of sweat, just don't go swimming with them!
Charging the unit is a nightly ritual for me and fortunately, the two USB cables, one for each temple, easily snap into place thanks to magnetic connectors. Each morning I simply tug at the cables and open the temples up, this boots up the Anzu and it auto connects to a paired device. With a simple tap on a raised bump on either temple, my music or audiobook starts. Or I simply ask SIRI to play my fav after telling me what today's weather forecast is.
This tech impressed me so much that I am now the proud owner of this amazing tech from Razer. I have not experienced this much joy from a product this year. I look forward to walking past you, with a polite nod thanking you for your obvs FOMO and silently mouthing “these are epic shades” whilst pointing at my face. Only mouthing it, because dude? Can't you see I am on a call...
Can be retrofitted with prescription lenses
I have less money in my bank account